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As the FTC observed in enacting the Funeral Rule, “A funeral is more than a social ritual: it is also an expensive consumer purchase.” But unlike other major expenditures, “Decisions must often be made while under the emotional strain of bereavement. In addition, consumers lack familiarity with the funeral transaction.” Those considerations are still at the forefront of the protections the Funeral Rule extends to grieving families, but traditions and technology have changed. So what’s the future of the Funeral Rule? Three developments merit your attention, including a new Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

First, the FTC initiated a routine review of the Funeral Rule in 2020 and received 785 comments. Among the industry members, consumer groups, and individuals who responded, overall support for the Rule was close to unanimous. Therefore, the FTC has decided to retain the Funeral Rule – but it doesn’t stop there.

The FTC also just released a staff report, Shopping for Funeral Services Online: An FTC Review of Funeral Provider Websites, that explores the results of research conducted between June and September 2021 – a time during the pandemic when many people couldn’t visit funeral homes to get pricing information in person. According to the report, less than 40% of funeral providers offered any price information on their websites. Consumers could get a general price list from only about 24% of the sites.

That research jibes with some of the comments we received as part of the 2020 Rule review. A number of commenters posed this question: Why not require funeral providers to make price information available online and through other electronic means? During times of bereavement – and especially in the middle of a pandemic – people aren’t in a position to go from funeral home to funeral home to get pricing information. The availability of online information would make it easier for consumers to compare costs.

So in addition to announcing the retention of the Funeral Rule and the results of the staff report, the FTC has published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking for your comments about seven issues under consideration:

  1. Electronic price disclosure – whether and how funeral providers should be required to display or distribute price information online or through electronic media
  2. Cremation-related fees disclosure – whether funeral providers should be required to disclose on the general price list third party crematory or other fees
  3. Limited exceptions to the basic service fee – whether the Rule’s requirements regarding reduced basic services fees should be amended
  4. New alternative disposal methods – whether the Rule should be amended to account for new forms of disposition
  5. Amendment of the mandatory embalming disclosure – whether the Rule’s embalming disclosure requirements should be amended
  6. Improvement of price list readability – whether the Rule should be changed to improve the readability of the price lists
  7. Effect on historically underserved communities – whether changes should be made to the Rule to avoid negatively impacting underserved communities.

Once the ANPR runs in the Federal Register, you’ll have 60 days to file your public comment. Save a step by filing online.

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Arlene Ward
October 25, 2022

At some funeral homes, the price range/selection of coffins include the ancillary items (except, chapels service, burial, minister, vocalist, programs, and thank you cards). Each of these items should be listed.

Michael Daley
November 08, 2022

In reply to by Arlene Ward

How can they list the cost of a minister? The funeral home does not set that price, that is based off of the officiant's fee.

Dorothy Rayner
October 25, 2022

I agree these funeral homes should POST their prices on their WEBSITE. Break it down in what it includes for different people & prices. The casket should be listed with prices. The costof using their facilities when the family choose to use their Chapel. What is the cost of using each family cars??? What are prices for having a viewing the night before the celebration of life. I agree they should post the prices of caskets starting with lower price to the most expensiveones. These funeral homes needs a contolling factor relating to PRICES of SEVICES they offer to the FAMILIES!!!!!

Marian E Walker
October 25, 2022

I just had to go through the situation of taking care of my Mother's funeral arrangements! And one of the most difficult times of my life! One thing that has bothered me was the fact that my Mother and I picked out and paid for extra plots near my Dad's and Mom's plots and my sister's plot for me and my brother to be placed when we passed! But when I went to look at those plots, they were no where near the ones we picked out and matter of fact, they had put mine and my brothers way down from where we purchased and had us buried on top of one another? And had given away the plots we had asked for and was given years ago when we buried my sister in 2012? I had to settle for a plot no where near my family and thank God, we traded my brother's plot plus over $1,000.00 for a place in the moseleum called a nitch for his ashes to rest in! Cause his plot was suppose to be right beneath my Mother's and it had been given away? I'm so worried that when I die, they are not going to have my plot anymore and are going to put me anywhere they can find a space? This needs to be regulated! Thank you, MEWalker

October 25, 2022

The death of a loved one is made worse by having to deal with a funeral "home". To those of us will small means, there are the apathetic directors who claim compassion but then get a blank look sfter being told $4700 is not affordable. For bare minimum services, parents go to stand on the corner fundraising to bury their child. when I die, there will be no funeral money, but they cant bury me in our yard. It is manipulating people who are in the depths of despair. Who can we go one.

October 26, 2022

thank you

Christopher L…
November 21, 2022

The funeral rule should not apply to a funeral home website that does not offer services or merchandise on it. Some websites are posted for the sole purpose of information of funeral and cremation services that the funeral home is currently handling, for grief care and pre arrangement advantages. In rural America, most people don’t go to the web for at need cases, they already know who they will go to.

Also, if the government is involved here, why not get involved in the auto business, I spent over $40,000 on my last car, and they could tell me anything in the world about it. Or how about going to the hospital. They don’t post their prices online and I get bills from so many different people afterwards. That is very stressful. The bureaucrats at the FTC need to take a step back and think things through.

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